Going to India did not only require that my passport was up to date but also that I apply for a visa. A visit to the travel clinic at my local public health department advised me that in addition to the hepatitis and tetanus shots I had received before a trip to China, I also needed a typhoid inoculation and to take malaria pills.
And then there was the packing. Trying to select the appropriate things, both from the aspect of practically and fashion, is the only time I ever wish I were a man. Being a traveling male seems so easy, a few shirts, some pants, one pair of shoes. No worries about makeup or hair styles. I packed and repacked. I finally looked on the internet and thankfully saw a travel blog advising female readers going to India to wear loose fitting clothes and to not wear shorts.
And then there was the over 15 hour flight. The tour company by chance booked this country girl on Emirates, the airline based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It was one of highlights of my trip. I was economy, of course, but the food was great, the movie selection was fabulous, stewardesses wore awesome uniforms, and I had brief stops in Dubai to change planes.
Everytime I used the washroom at the back of the plane, I couldn’t help sneaking a peek at the full sized winding staircase that led up to where wealthy passengers enjoyed luxurious first class heaven. Must be nice, I thought.
When I arrived in Delhi, I was greeted by a tour representative and transported by car to my hotel. My first impression of India was that it was a place with an extraordinary amount of loud honking.
All through the trip, whether on highways or on city streets or villages roads the use of horns was constant. When I mentioned this to my tour guide or local residences they dismissed it as both nothing unusual and very necessary. They explained that people in moving vehicles needed to tell other people where they were. But with all the noise being made, I wondered if communicating this way had any effectiveness.
India has 17.7 4% world’s people with a population of 1.35 billion., second only to China. I wondered if the honking was an equalizer, a way for all classes, rich, poor and in the middle, to have a voice. I watched an India political discussion on the TV in my hotel room and witnessed the same loud passion as each people spoke over the other, each politician asserting his or her existence and proclaiming, “I am here.”
And then I thought, is this honking in India so removed from the human condition? We all want to be heard and to feel that our existence is and will be significant. This has always been mankind’s desire. In southern France there are handprints on cave walls dating back to 25,000 BC. They too proclaimed, “I was here”.
I’m not much different. I’m writing this blog so my grandkids will know my story and remember that I was here.
Keep honking, India. I hear you.